I honestly feel overwhelmed at the idea of discussing the atonement in a single blog post. There is always something new to learn about the atonement, and I think that we’ll die before we adequately understand it.
What it boils down to is the atonement heals us. It heals us from the effects of the fall. Without the atonement we have no plan of salvation – as we have no salvation. The atonement was necessary, and it needed to be infinite and eternal in order to fulfill God’s purposes. (See Moses 1:39.)
There are three major ways that I’ve felt the power of the atonement in my life that I will share here.
Healing from Our Own Sins
Of course, I’m most acquainted with the atonement in this context. I have sinned, repented, and sinned again. It feels like the closer I get to God, the more I realize I’m far from him. (Does that make sense?) Yet, the power of the atonement has played a part in my life when I have repented.
Repentance itself can be a bit of a process, but when I have repented, I have felt like Alma – who, when he was harrowed up in His sins felt grief, but as soon as he had the mind to repent, he could no longer feel his pains. (See Alma 36:17-19.)
Several years ago, I was a single mother living in Chester County, PA. It was a struggle for me, and if you read my blog regularly, I’m sure that you’ve read about this time in my life before. I prayed for help, strength, and a husband. Throughout the time that I was single, the Lord blessed me with everything I needed. Yet, I ached to be married and enjoy the blessings of a family.
After a few years, because of the wise advice I received from my bishop, I finally had the chance to meet Homey. It was amazing. Quickly, we fell in love.
I remember driving to drop the girls off at daycare one morning. As I drove up the final hill to my destination, I was thinking about the phone conversation I had with Homey the night before. I felt high with the love I had for him and he had for me. And I realized that this was a miracle. The Lord had worked the miracle of my life by allowing me to meet homey. The years of prayers were pointing to that moment.
I was also acutely aware of the sins I had committed, the weakness I had, yet the Lord’s willingness to bless me. I felt overwhelmed with gratitude and humility. I knew that the power of the atonement had enabled me to realize the blessing of meeting and marrying Pete. I knew that, in and of myself, I wasn’t worthy of the blessing I desired. I also knew that I wasn’t going to the Lord in and of myself, but that I had the help and intercession of the Savior. I knew that the Savior made it possible for me not only to repent, but also to experience desired blessings.
As I was dropping off my girls that cloudy, chili February morning, not only did I realize that the Lord worked a miracle in my life to meet Homey, but that He had already worked the biggest miracle of all: forgiving and healing me from my own past sins.
The Sins of Others
Unfortunately, we don’t sin in a vacuum. Often, the choices of others can have an impact on many more people than only themselves. There are times when we must experience the consequences of the sins of another.
Though we may still have a “peace of conscience” (as do not have to overcome our own sin). Our “peace of mind” may be unsettled (the effects of the sins of another). The atonement can heal us of this, too.
I know that when we are hurting – even if it is of through fault of our own – the Savior understands, and he can heal the broken-hearted. Jesus pleads:
“¶Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
The Lord doesn’t only ask sinners to come to Him. He beckons for anyone who labors and are heavy laden. Sometimes, the burdens we bear come as a result of the selfish decisions of another. Thankfully, the power of Christ’s atonement can lighten any burden.
Physical Pain – Limitations of Mortality
A third way that I have experienced the power of the atonement in my life is while enduring physical pain. Sometimes, it seems like enduring a physical trial would be easier than a divorce or death. I know that I have thought that before. And in some ways, that is true. But, I have learned not to underestimate the harrowing effect of physical pain!
My life has been blessed. Generally, I have had good physical health. However, there have been a few times in my life when I have endured physical trials – kidney stones, child-birth, rupturing cysts, and chronic pain from endometriosis (to name a few). It is amazing how these physical trials can be just as burdensome as the pain that comes from sin.
Thankfully, we do not have to suffer alone.
“And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.” – Alma 7:11-12
When you are in a hospital room, alone, trembling in pain – it really is comforting to know that Christ understands. While the pain may not go away, we can pray. We can pray for strength, comfort, and relief. It is also comforting to know that, thanks to Christ, we will not be bound by our mortal bodies forever. Because of Christ’s atonement and resurrection, we will one day enjoy perfected blessings. The perspective and comfort that comes through the atonement can turn even the most physically harrowing experiences into hallowed memories.
How have you felt the power of the atonement in your life? How does understanding the atonement help you to better understand the plan of salvation, in general?